John Creasey, Inspector West Cries Wolf, Hodder & Stoughton, 1954
Hodder & Stoughton original Yellow Jacket series were published in England from 1926 until 1939. A second series was launched in 1949. Each book cost 2 shillings. The covers remained yellow until 1957, when the series gave way to Hodder Pocket books. Uber-prolific English author John Creasey (1908 – 1973) published there some of the six hundred novels he is credited with (under twenty-eight pseudonyms). Hodder & Stoughton published notably books with his Inspector Roger West , and his eccentric, aristocratic, “Saint”- like character, the “Toff”, a sort of later days Arsène Lupin. The Toff was created in 1938. Charteris’s The Saint was also published and republished in the same series, as were many successes from the first, interwar series : Wallace, Oppenheim and Sapper amongst many others. Or Patricia Wentworth, with her upper-class compatible, governess-detective, Miss Silver. The yellow covers signal classicism, in the detective novel or the thriller traditions.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery and Horror, Second series, London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., 1931 (7th printing 1949)
Starting in 1928, Left-wing publisher Victor Gollancz devised some of the most eye-catching covers for the books it published. Their vibrant yellow colour stood out on the bookstalls. Gollancz had a special paper shipped from Germany to produce dust wrappers whose yellow would not fade (although it is obvious from the pictures here that it eventually did). Amongst these were a good number of Crime Fiction books, including those of Dorothy Sayers, who had herself worked in the advertising industry. The title of her novel Murder must advertise worked both as a description (it is set in the world of advertising) and as a commentary on the aggressive commercial signal sent by the conditioning of her books. Fittingly, the Sex Pistols would later use the same colours as the Gollancz publications for the packaging of their own attack on consumer culture.
Georges Simenon, Maigret in Nueva York, Buenos Aires, Editorial TOR, Serie Amarilla. Policial, aventura y misterio, 1952
In the 1940s and 50s, the Argentinian publisher Editorial Tor brought out a large number of international crime fiction books under a distinctive yellow cover. Printed in 12x17cm paperback format, these books acknowledged both the standardisation of Crime Fiction books and the canonisation of an international group of authors, from Doyle and Leblanc, to Sax Rohmer and Simenon as the most representative of the genre and its subgenres Continue reading
Sax Rohmer, El Diabolico Doctor (Biblioteca Oro, 35, 1935)
It was not long before a Spanish publisher introduced the 1920’s fashion of Yellow Crime Fiction booklets to Spain. Only a few years after Mondadori in Italy, the Barcelona publisher Molino proposed in 1933 (the year of the publishing house’s creation), a series of Crime Fiction pulps with yellow covers in its series Biblioteca Oro. Like the Italian series, this Spanish counterpart would become a landmark series, publishing the most representative authors in the genre. The books were on average some 100 pages long and cost 0,90 cts.
The first period of the series starts in 1933 and finishes in 1936, the year of the civil war. In its original period, the series published 25 authors, accounting for 68 books (see list below). The authors who saw the most of their books translated in the series were Oppenheim (8), Martyn (7), Christie (6) and Van Dine (5). Christie published there in that period the following books, whose translated title remain close to the original (this was not always the case in French) as can be see here : Continue reading
A direct predecessor of “Le Masque”‘s and “Giallo” Mondadori’s distinctive yellow covers, Hodder & Stoughton’s “Yellow jackets” series published crime fiction, from 1926 and throughout the 1930’s. Crime thrillers by popular authors such as Edgar Wallace and John Buchan were published there . So were, from 1928, those by Leslie Charteris: this is where all fifty novels in “The Saint” series were published.
Making the link between the original 19th Century railway Library “Yellowbacks” and the fad for giallo (yellow becoming -before noir, the colour of crime fiction) all over Europe, this series of bestsellers anticipate crime fiction paperbacks. While this particular series found an end in the late 1930.s, a new yellow Series was launched in 1949 with the same publisher. Continue reading
The Ullstein Verlag, founded in Berlin in 1877, was one of the most active and successful agents on the market of entertainment publications in Germany. One year after Le Masque in France, and one year before Mondadori, in Italy, it too launched a series of yellow mass market Crime Fiction books : Ullstein Gelbe Reihe was started in 1928. Continue reading